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Posted in Advice, Books, Guest Blog Post, writing

Top 10 Manuscript Mistakes

There are so many places to go wrong when writing an entire book and even harder identifying these issues in your own book. Especially after reading it for the seven hundredth time.
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Today, editor Megan Easley-Walsh (who helped me with my own book RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER) is on my blog to describe the top ten manuscript mistakes she sees all the time. This is super useful as an editing checklist when going through your manuscript, or to give to your critique partners or beta readers as things to look out for. Hope you find it helpful! hMQxUM6

10. Pacing problems:
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The beginning must be engaging. The middle has to keep up momentum and it should end with an impact. Part of pacing also involves where chapters break. The end of the chapter should demand that the character turn the page to discover more.
9. Starting in the wrong place:
whereamI
Cliche beginnings of waking-up, getting dressed, dreaming or another expected start should only happen if there is a very good reason. Begin the story in an engaging place, where the action starts. Don’t drop the character in where nothing is happening, but also don’t drop the character into some epic battle before the reader cares about the character. This brings us to the next point…
8. Not enough empathy for the characters:
Ron-Swanson-Says-Dont-Even-Care
If a character is rebellious (this often happens in YA), the reader needs to feel empathy to understand why the character is this way. No matter what personality traits the characters have, it’s important that the reader can get a true sense of them. This brings us to point seven…
7. Not having fully developed secondary characters or antagonists:
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Villains don’t perceive themselves as bad. Their actions make sense to them. Likewise, secondary characters are the stars of their own lives. They don’t know that they’re supporting someone else.
6.Too much backstory:
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Telling too much backstory is distracting, because it takes the character out of the immediacy of the action. You wouldn’t walk up to someone and introduce yourself only to hear the entirety of his or her life. Many writers do the literary equivalent of this though, when they introduce their characters and mountains of backstory. Pieces of backstory should be dropped naturally into the story, when it’s relevant to what’s happening. In most cases, you must care about the character’s present before you can care about his or her past. A book is a snapshot of the character’s life, where the most interesting or life-changing events happen.
5. Too much physical description of characters:
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Writers, especially new writers, like to describe characters in minute detail: hair color, eye color, what the person is wearing, how the person has done her makeup, etc. Physical descriptions do not often convey deeper characteristics and are often unnecessary. If there is a physical description of the character, it should be for a reason. The reason can be that another character is observing that character’s feature or that the description sets the character apart somehow. For example, Goliath’s height is necessary to the David and Goliath story.
 
4. Copying another writer’s style:
doggo
It’s your story. It’s important that you not try to copy your favorite author. It’s better and necessary that you write your own story with your own style. Reading widely helps you avoid copying someone else’s style (subconsciously).
3. Not editing the manuscript:
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When you finish writing the story, it still needs to be edited. If you need help from a professional, that’s totally fine. But, it’s obvious that some writers don’t read their work at all. Blatant typos should be corrected at the very least without additional help. Before you submit your manuscript to an agent, publisher, or publish it yourself, it should be polished to perfection (or at least as close as possible).
2. Not finishing the manuscript:
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Many writers have several stories started, but not finished. While it’s perfectly fine not to finish everything you start, what usually happens in cases like this is that the writer tries to edit as she or he goes. This often leads to fear of writing the wrong thing and stalls the writing process.
1. Not writing the manuscript:
writing-bad
Whether it’s worry, fear or a lack of time, not writing the story that wants to be written is the biggest mistake. Only you can write your manuscript. Your characters are depending on you!
Follow Megan online!
Posted in #MuseMon, Twitter, writing

Twitter Writing Events Schedule

MONDAYS:
#MuseMon hosted by (ME!) @Claribel_Ortega
With a new music inspired theme each week, my own writer event #MuseMon is a great way to kick off the week.

museMon

#LoveLines hosted by @ellekarmawrites @AmandaKWrites
Share your lines about love and relationships from any genre! Optional themes posted each week.

 

LoveLinesTweet

TUESDAY:
#2BitTues hosted by @AngDonofrio

2bitTues

WEDNESDAY:
#1lineWed hosted by @RWAKissofDeath

Pictures are not required but sometimes add a nice touch.
Pictures are not required but sometimes add a nice touch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THURSDAY:

#ThruLineThurs hosted by @Madd_Fictional and @GurlKnoesSciFi

#Thurds hosted by @iamfunkhauser

FRIDAY:
#FictFri hosted by @Gracie_DeLunac
#FP hosted by @LoonyMoonyLara and @AdeleSGray, you can also follow @FridayPhrases
#FriDare hosted by @micascotti

SATURDAY:
#SlapDashSat hosted by @Madd_Fictional – No rules for this event!

SUNDAY:
#SunWIP hosted by @JudyLMohr

Posted in YA Fantasy

F*** IT. ZOMBIES (Or: Why my editor needs an aspirin)

WRIT

Sometimes doing exactly what you want to do is hard. I write fanciful novels about a magical detective. I love them. They’re silly and meaningful and ridiculous and fun. Also, sometimes, they’re hard. Writing a book, it turns out, is a lot of writing. When the pressure of deadlines and the slog of getting sh* done starts to make what I love feel like a JOB (gasp)… I’ve found that I have three options:

  1. Fortify and do your damn job.
  2. Abandon your dreams and drink heavily.
  3. F* it. Have fun.

A colleague of mine arranged for the author Jacquelyn Mitchard to visit our students last year. Mitchard spoke about her debut The Deep End of The Ocean being selected as Oprah’s first ever Book Club book. She talked about her process and was generally a very intelligent and engaging guest. My favorite moment was her reply to the classic, “What do you do when you get writer’s block?” question…

View original post 434 more words

Posted in own voices, Publishing, querying, Twitter, writing, YA Fantasy

My Querying Success Story on #DVpit.com

Originally posted on DVPIT.com

A #DVpit Success Story:
Interview with Claribel Ortega, Michelle Richter and Laurie McLean

Claribel and Michelle and Laurie, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview and congratulations on your partnership! To start, Claribel, I’d love to know more about your book and why you wrote it.

CLARIBEL: My book, RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER, is a mashup of all the weird things I love, but it started out as an exploration of real life New York City residents. Growing up in the South Bronx, I kept finding that each neighborhood or block had that one character. A person who is famous to you and your friends. Usually someone offbeat. Or you know, weird. But they were always special to us. Through my research I found out about John Votta, known as The Timekeeper on the NYU campus. I centered a story around Mr. Votta, who moved to Greenwich Village in the 1980s, and gave him a magical twist. As I began building my world, Emerald Kipp, a Latinx punk witch with sticky fingers and the incredible ability to control time emerged. In ROTK Emerald has to solve a scavenger hunt-like riddle to save her aunt before time runs out and erases her from history. Think Back To The Future meets The CraftREAD THE REST HERE!

Posted in Graphics, Tutorials, VIdeos, Youtube Video

Graphic Tutorial: For Book Promo & More!

A quick graphic tutorial using Picmonkey.com. Great for book promo graphics or any other simple design need. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section of the video and I’ll be happy to answer!

In case the video is blocked in your country, see below!

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, am writing, Books, Claribel Ortega, literary agent, MSWL, Pets, Publishing, query, querying, Querying Help, Uncategorized

Query Tips: Advice for Authors Seeking a Literary Agent

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Querying, a Gif

If you’ve ever wanted to publish a book traditionally, then you know (or maybe you don’t) that getting an agent is an essential part of the process. There’s no formula for querying effectively, some of it is hard work, some is luck. But I think if you do everything you can to make sure the parts you CAN control are as good as they can be, it’ll go much better than just winging it or throwing queries out there without researching the process.

I’ve put together a video with all the tips I picked up along the way to signing with my own agents, and I hope it helps you! If you find the video helpful please like, and subscribe to my channel for more writing and book related videos🙂

 

Posted in AmQuerying Series, query, querying, Querying Help, Uncategorized

The Query Letter That Got Me an Agent

Dear (Agent name spelled correctly),

      Reeking of cigarettes and sneaking into her window after last night’s Smiths concert, Emerald Kipp watches as the sun dips backwards into the sky. The sixteen-year-old witch can’t decide if she’s still hung-over or if she really did reverse time. Coming from a lineage of Caribbean and South American witches, Emerald has always known she was magical, but after rewinding time like a VHS tape on her last day of high school, she discovers she’s also a Timeteller – a class of time-bending witches so powerful, they were hunted to near-extinction long ago.

     When Emerald’s only relative Aunt Nora vanishes, Emerald must venture into the dangerous Magick World, tucked within the NYC alleyways and subway tunnels to save her. Her only clue into her aunt’s disappearance comes from a message from the past—find The Timekeeper, solve the riddle.

     Despite the watercolor sky and talking neon signs, the NYC Magick world is a treacherous one, and skinstitchers , a class of witches who kill and absorb the power of other witches, soon make Emerald their target. With power hungry skinstitchers  hunting her, Emerald must rely on an underground network of Magicks to help her on her journey. Solving the riddle requires not only trusting her new friends, but overcoming her crippling anxiety enough to trust herself.

   As the mystery of the riddle begins to unravel, Emerald learns that more than Aunt Nora’s life is at stake if she can’t beat it. Armed with a book of magic, her still-broken Walkman, and her trusty lock pick set, Emerald sets out to solve the riddle before time runs out–and she, along with everyone she knows, is erased from history. This might be a little harder than Saturday detention.

RIDDLE OF THE TIMEKEEPER is a 99,000-word YA Urban Fantasy set in 1980’s New York City. It combines THE CRAFT with SHADOWSHAPER and  is a standalone novel with strong series potential. I am querying you because (brief explanation). Below please find my first twenty pages and a brief synopsis.

     I work as a marketing director and social media manager at The Combined Book Exhibit, which displays books at library and trade shows such as The Frankfurt Book Fair, worldwide. I am also a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Journalism program and a former reporter in Westchester County, NY.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Posted in am writing, Authors, giveaway

ScholarPitch 2016

[Turns from sniffing flowers]
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Oh hi there, welcome to our post. We’d like to talk about a pitch contest. Not just any pitch contest, Pitch Wars.
Most of you already know what that is, but if you need a refresher blurb, feast your eyes on this (from the PitchWars page at Brenda-drake.com):
“Pitch Wars is a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each, read their entire manuscript, and offer suggestions to shine it up for agents. The mentors also critique the writer’s pitch to get it ready for the agent round…In November during the agent round, each mentee is featured on a post that includes their pitch and the first page of their manuscript. Participating agents view the posts and make requests. More than 50 authors were offered representation and/or published with the help of Pitch Wars 2015!”

The submission window is coming up next week and there is a lot of excitement among prospective mentees to get their submissions ready to submit to 4 lucky mentors. There is the opportunity to get 2 extra entries by donating $20 to PitchWars .

This is the main thing we’d like to talk about. We believe that donating to PitchWars is key to keep such a great contest running. We also know that not everyone can afford to donate. So, we created this Scholarship fund. A Scholarship for Pitch contests…a ScholarPITCH if you will.

And since we’re POC/ownvoices and proud of it, we’d like to give this Scholarpitch to POC,  Native Voices and LGBTQIA looking to enter PitchWars. So, we will pick TEN winners to receive a $20 donation in their name so they can enter to 2 extra mentors. This giveaway is not an official part of PitchWars, but something that we’d like to start because of the understanding that not all people can afford to donate. (Note: If you can still donate then please consider it, PitchWars has done so much to get deserving authors’ work in front of enthusiastic agents).
To enter, tell us in 250 words (or less) why you think you deserve the scholarpitch. Include that and your query letter in an email to TheScholarPitch@gmail.com. Submission window is open now through August 1, 2016
  1. This is a small contest and the rules are decided by Claribel and Kat. They will personally read each entry and have final decision on winners.
  2. The contest is open now until August 1, 2016. If volume of applications becomes too large to read through before deadline, entry submission will be closed sooner due to time constraints of two authors with revisions and WiPs of their own to get through. If that happens, it will be announced at www.ClaribelOrtega.com and Twitter via @Claribel_Ortega and @KatCho
  3. Any POC, Native Authors or  LGBTQIA planning to enter Pitch Wars may enter. There are no restrictions on genre. (preference will be given to ownvoices)
  4. We reserve the right to disqualify anyone from the contest for any reason.
  5. Prizes are not transferrable. Please alert one of us if you decide not to enter PitchWars and we will reserve the right to choose a replacement winner.
  6. If you already have donated $20 then, unfortunately, you cannot enter. We will not be providing cash directly as a post-reimbursement. It will be donated directly to Pitchwars in your name.
  7. If we don’t get 10 viable entries, we reserve the right to not award some or all of the prizes.
  8. Your entry will remain private. We will not be posting any part of your entry and we will not be publicly announcing winners.
Posted in #MuseMon, writer, writing

What The Heck is #MuseMon?

Hi all! I am pretty obsessed with Twitter # events, especially the ones that involve writing like #1lineWed and #2BitTues. I decided to start my own event, every Monday, with my own music inspired twist!

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A few of the #MuseMon themes so far.

#MuseMon will be a weekly event, where all writers are welcome to tweet 1 line of their WIP. I will choose a new theme each week and (this is where the music part comes in) the theme will be inspired by an artist, song, album or genre of music.

The line does not have to relate to music! Just tweet anything from your WIP that relates to the THEME.

In order to help me choose the theme, I will post a poll each Monday with possible inspirations – meaning artists, albums or songs that you can vote for – and then I will pick a theme inspired by whoever wins that poll! Are you confused yet!?

It’s really a lot simpler than it seems, and the best way to get a hang of it is to PLAY! Check out my Twitter each week for the theme & please let me know if you have any questions!

https://twitter.com/Claribel_Ortega

 

Posted in Poetry, ReBlogged

On Friendship

Moto Poet:

Old Friends

Some,
Are friends,

And to aall of those friends,  you are just a friend. Any one of them. Today your best, tomorrow rest, and then a Judas’ friend.

For friends are not foes, nor foes your friends.  Time and wealth, love or pain, grief and hate, all or one, a mirage that turns to foe, a friend.

Some,
Are bad friends,

And from aall of those friends, you’re just a blink away, from foe to friend. Like a sheath is to a sword,  a sheath is to a dull blade… “Nipson anomēmata mē monan opsin

One knows that one is all to all, and all are all to one, the smile that shakes the hand, the evil grin of a knife at play. The tears. The Joy. Revenge

Some,
Are Machiavellian friends,

And of aall those friends, the one who’s meant to stay, will step away and claim your head…

View original post 149 more words

Posted in cover reveal, Uncategorized

Aboard Providence Cover Reveal!

Been a while since I posted a cover reveal but I’m excited to be sharing the lovely Keely Brooke Keith’s cover for her new book ABOARD PROVIDENCE.

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That GIF wasn’t the cover but THIS IS:

Aboard Providence - Cover

Beautiful, right?! Read below for more info and make sure to enter the raffle!

– C


Title: Aboard Providence

Author: Keely Brooke Keith

Publisher: CrossRiver Media Group

Released Date: October 20, 2016

Pre-order Link: CrossRiver Media

 

One Sentence Summary:

A voyage aboard Providence changes Jonah’s plans, but can it change his heart?

 

Description:

In November 1860, Jonah Ashton is determined to finish his studies at Penn’s Medical School before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. When he learns his father has joined a group of Virginia families planning to sail from America to form a new settlement elsewhere, he travels to his family’s estate intent on saying goodbye. However, when an accident leaves his father in need of a physician, Jonah agrees to serve as ship’s doctor, but he resolves to return to medical school as quickly as possible.

 

While aboard the Providence, Jonah falls in love with former classmate Marian Foster. Despite their love for each other, Marian has no desire to return to America with him.

 

After an arduous voyage, Providence runs aground on an uncharted land in the South Atlantic Ocean. While the rest of the settlers celebrate finding the land they wanted, Jonah takes off to explore the island and he soon discovers a startling truth that changes everything, but can it change his heart?

 

Quotes about the book:

“A delightful adventure reminiscent of Swiss Family Robinson, Aboard Providence is one of those novels that will stick with me because I feel I’ve lived it. A captivating, well-researched, and deftly written tale I can confidently recommend to a wide range of readers.” –Heather Day Gilbert, author of Amazon Norse bestseller God’s Daughter

 

“With vivid settings and multi-layered characters, Keely Brooke Keith whisks her readers off on a page-turning journey, not just across the ocean, but within the heart. You won’t be able to put Aboard Providence down until the final word is read and then you will long for more.” –Brenda S. Anderson, author of the Coming Home series

 

“A blend of history and romance with a compelling inspirational message, Keith expertly weaves an intriguing tale. Fans of the Uncharted Series won’t want to miss this journey.” –Heidi McCahan, author of Unraveled

 

“Keely Brooke Keith is a master storyteller, weaving adventure, love, and wonderful characters into a vivid story that will take readers on an unforgettable voyage to a new place. Full of inspirational messages and tales of God’s love, readers will find themselves longing for more. Keely’s story teaches all of us that the journey is just the beginning!” –Christina Yother, author of the Hollow Hearts series

 

 

Author Info:

 

Author Bio:

Keely Brooke Keith is the author of the Uncharted series (Edenbrooke Press) and Aboard Providence (CrossRiver Media). Her novels are known for blending genres in surprising ways. When she isn’t writing stories, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Originally from St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely resides with her husband and their daughter on a hilltop south of Nashville where she dreams up stories, hoping to encourage, comfort, and inspire readers. She is a member of ACFW.

 

Social Media Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Instagram

Pinterest

 

Find Keely’s books online:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Audible

 

 

Giveaway Info

Enter here for your chance to win an autographed copy of Aboard Providence.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sharing WIP Lines Via Twitter Hashtags – A Calendar

Jacy Merrill

We all love to share tidbits/teasers of our work. I know I do! Something on Twitter that has been gaining attention and attraction are the hashtag games hosted by other writers. If you wish to participate, there is one for every day of the week. In order to keep up, I decided to write this short blog post on it.

If there is one you know about that I didn’t list, please let me know, so I can update this list! Follow the hashtags and writers for the themes and rules.

 

MONDAY: #MuseMon hosted by @Claribel_Ortega

TUESDAY: #2BitTues hosted by @AngDonofrio

WEDNESDAY: #1lineWed hosted by @RWAKissofDeath

THURSDAY: #ThruLineThurs hosted by @Madd_Fictional and @GurlKnoesSciFi

#Thurds hosted by @iamfunkhauser

FRIDAY: #FictFri hosted by @Gracie_DeLunac

#FP hosted by @LoonyMoonyLara and @AdeleSGray, you can also follow @FridayPhrases

#FriDare hosted by @micascotti

SATURDAY: #SlapDashSat hosted by @Madd_Fictional (no themes, no rules)

SUNDAY: #SunWIP hosted…

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Posted in #MuseMon, Uncategorized

#MuseMon! A New Twitter Game for Writers & Music Lovers!

Hi all! I am pretty obsessed with Twitter # events, especially the ones that involve writing like #1lineWed and #2BitTues. I decided to start my own event, every Monday, with my own music inspired twist!

#MuseMon will be a weekly event, where all writers are welcome to tweet 1 line of their WIP. I will choose a new theme each week and (this is where the music part comes in) the theme will be inspired by an artist, song, album or genre of music.

The line does not have to relate to music! Just tweet anything from your WIP that relates to the THEME.

The very first #MuseMon will be this coming Monday, 6/13 and the theme will be: DREAMS! Inspired by one of the greatest rappers (arguably the greatest) of all time, The Notorious B.I.G.

MusicMon1

 

My inspiration came from Biggie’s 1994 single Juicy from his debut album READY TO DIE.

His opening lines, “It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine/ Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine,” are iconic and set the tone for what would become Biggie’s signature storytelling style. Juicy documents his rise to fame, and any hip-hop head will be able to recite the song back word-for-word.

Make sure to follow me Twitter for the #MuseMon theme each week!

Posted in 80's Movie Rewind, Uncategorized

80's Movie Rewind : Modern Girls

redlips

You know those weeknights when you go to the hottest clubs with your best friends and meet a strange guy who ends up being pretty cool, after a long day working at the pet store or telemarketing office? No?! Me either, but that’s the general plot of this 80’s cult classic MODERN GIRLS, based on a 1985 Playboy article. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds and that, along with the soundtrack, is pretty much why I love it. Below is my spoilery-summary of the movie but really, you can read it and still enjoy it because the movie as a whole makes no sense! And it’s a masterpiece.

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Cece  breaks it down for Bruno X

I first stumbled upon Modern Girls on Netflix a few years back. I was in a bad place, sleeping on a friend’s cot in Queens and pretty much hiding under a blanket all weekend (breakups amirite?) Modern Girls became a nightly ritual, my bedtime story. Warm milk with legwarmers and neon body paint set to a new wave and 80’s indie pop soundtrack. It was a hot mess but I loved it and still do.

Screen shot 2012-03-09 at 11.28.42 AM
The gang at a goth club being sad & stuff

The movie starts with three best friends, Margo, Cece and Kelly working at their respective dead-end jobs. After a quick disco nap and characterization montageKelly agonizing over calling her expired-jar-of-mayonnaise-ex, Brad while listening to Depeche Mode, Cece talking to her dog about getting fired (ME) and Margo reading with a sexy-saxophone instrumental playing in the background (ALSO ME)the girls take a disco nap and get ready to the tune of Toni Basil’s Girl’s Night Out. I know, I thought Mickey was her only song too.

Screen shot 2010-09-10 at 10.30.31 PM
LOOK AT THIS ROOM, SOMEBODY GIVE IT TO ME

The girls apartment is a hot mess, they need to do dishes! But who cares, because it’s time to hit the hottest clubs in LA and then…PLOT TWIST a handsome stranger arrives with some booze and a convertible to pick Kelly up for a date. Problem is, Kelly broke out ages ago (that means she left not that she has pimples) and now the girls are car-less. OR ARE THEY? After hypnotizing handsome-stranger Cliff into driving them to the club, the night of fun begins at the first destination, a warehouse like club with neon-painted dancers and mermaid costumed ladies. It’s totally weird! I want to go.

Cliff gets snubbed by Kelly, Kelly gets snubbed by bag of dicks DJ Brad, Cece meets pop star Bruno X who looks exactly like Cliff with a British accent, spiked hair and a leather trench (hint: played by the same actor) and falls in love with him and then the police come and they get separated. AHHHHH.

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Kelly goes missing (she’s on drugs right now ya’ll bc of Brad) and Cece is crying over Bruno X while Margo rolls her eyes at everyone. Cliff laments nobody in LA reading or knowing what books are and Margo drops a bombshell : SHE WAS A COMPARATIVE LIT MAJOR *drops mic and walks away*  I laugh at this part. every. time. Cliff falls in love. Obviously. 

Modern-Girls-images-5d618fa3-2adf-40e5-b63a-1c92a1d9dac
Margo, rolling her eyes at everyone & sneering.                 10/10 character

They find Kelly, and save her from a weird looking jeep-driving-jerkasaurus in an epic water fountain fight. That’s right. In a water fountain. The rest of the movie gets wrapped up in a nice little bow that will leave you asking, “What did I just watch and when can I watch it again?”

MODERN GIRLS

Ascot Video/Atlantic Entertainment Group 1986

Recommended for:

Slumber parties

Post-break-up sadness

Lonely nights in with ice cream (see above)

Buy here.

*Warning* There is on 80’s style racially insensitive moment which is awful, so just fast forward during the car-chase scene bc it’s pretty stupid anyway.

 

 

Posted in AmQuerying Series, literary agent, Publishing, querying, writer, writing

#AMQUERYING: With Michelle Hazen

rockclimb

Hello nerds! Today I have my third guest of the #Amquerying series, the very ass-kicky Michelle Hazen! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. Michelle will be an adult/new adult mentor in this year’s PITCH WARS so look out for her if you’re hoping to enter! You can follow Michelle on Twitter here and read below to find out how she got her agent, the deal with her science-tortoises and more!

How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

For the first book I queried, my only resource was an outdated Writer’s Market that I got from the library. For the second book I queried, I researched more widely on the internet at large. For the third book I queried, I joined Twitter, and suddenly the world exploded into a fountain of publishing information and contests, and I learned REALLY fast how many things I was doing wrong.

Writers? I hate social media, too. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the internet-less wilderness and most people’s great-grandparents got a smartphone before I did. But if you want to be an author, repeat after me…Just. Join. Twitter.

Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

Nope. I wrote 13 and queried 3 before I landed an agent.

I know you have a background in fan fic writing, can you tell me about that? Did it affect your querying process at all or help you stand out to agents?

Fanfiction helped me learn to write, and it gave me a chance to connect with readers and know how heart-swellingly awesome that could be, which helped me through the heartbreak of the querying process. However, I’m an odd fanfic writer in that Amazon Kindle Worlds gave me an opportunity to legally publish my fanfic and share my royalties with the copyright holder. So I had some publishing credits, sales numbers, and marketing experience in my back pocket before I started shopping my original fiction around.

What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent?

I queried my first book in 2005, to somewhat less than trumpeting fanfare because I was making a lot of noob mistakes I didn’t realize were mistakes. I queried Book 2 for several months in 2014, and I meant to write its sequel but instead I guiltily wrote this other book that was jockeying for my attention. I hadn’t exhausted my options for Book 2 yet, but I was SO excited about Book 3, so I started querying it and entering it in contests. Right away, it got more requests than I was used to, and I had my offer in hand within 6 weeks of sending my first query.

 

How did you balance querying with your other activities? I know you climb rocks and work with large tortoises for science.

Small tortoises, actually. For science. LOL! I have a load of hobbies, and I’ve never gotten super good at any of them because I have so many…and then writing came along and ate my life. It’s even harder to keep up with all my other interests now because I devote an incredible amount of time to writing. But I find that one of the kindest things I can do for myself during either the querying process or the being on submission to publishers process is to GET AWAY FROM THE INTERNET.

I just got back from a week long, girls-only rock climbing trip, and seriously, it is so wonderful to not be thinking about if you have writing news or if you don’t have news, and why you don’t have news, and if you don’t have news because maybe you’re a terrible fraud and a hack and should maybe drown yourself in Cheez Whiz and White Out. Plus, if you go to the wilderness, not only do you get away from the refresh button (irony), but you remember that you have a whole life and a lot of talents that aren’t at all connected to writing. So maybe when you get that next rejection letter, you’ll remember there are parts of you the publishing industry is not even ALLOWED to pass judgment on. That can feel really good—almost like being a stable, well-balanced person. Almost.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

Oh, super cool. I was fine, thanks, totally expected rejection, was super zen, practically spouting green tea from my ears and thoughtfully pruning bonsai trees with machetes to pass the time. Ha freaking ha.

No, honestly through most of the querying process, I was teeth bared, JUST TRY AND STOP ME I WILL WRITE BOOKS UNTIL YOU ARE BURIED IN BOOKS AND THE WORLD RUNS OUT OF PAPER FOR YOU TO WRITE REJECTION LETTERS ON. My life story is a long list of pulling off crazy, unlikely shit because I was too stupid to give up. Writing is sort of perfect for me.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

Yes. See Number 5: Backing Away From the Internet.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

I didn’t expect it to end so soon! LOL. Honestly, there are so many blow-your-mind talented authors in the querying trenches, some of whom I’ve seen get agents lately and some of whom are still looking, and I sort of expected to be the one who had to query 20 books over a period of 35 years while selling baskets on eBay woven of my graying hair and lined with the tear-moistened paper of rejection letters.

But I suppose in another way, the querying process is never over. You have to land a book deal for each book you write, even after you get an agent, so the process continues: you just happen to have the support of a seasoned industry professional who deeply and truly believes in you. Which, I’m not going to lie, is awesome.

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?

RESEARCH! I mean, as an ex-counselor, maybe I should be giving you some emotional management tips, but really, you wouldn’t need nearly as many of those if you would RESEARCH. If you’ve never had anyone read and give you feedback on your work, stop querying right now. If you haven’t done dozens of hours of research on querying and what agents are looking for and what the most common errors in querying are…stop querying right now and start researching. I’ve seen too many really promising books burn all their agent chances because they were making some small, fixable errors. Don’t do this.

The piece of advice I usually give querying authors is this website:

https://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

When I was writing fanfiction, I found a really talented author and basically bullied her into being my critique partner. She’s helped me with every line I’ve written and every day I have dragged myself through ever since. I hit the jackpot with her, and then spent YEARS testing out other CPs and beta readers. I now have a great group of beta readers and two flat-out amazing CPs who are a huge support to me in my writing and personal life. Those girls are funny, sweet, crazy talented, and they know when to kick my ass and when to send me Texas coffee or tree air fresheners.

I think you really need writing friends, because the world at large doesn’t understand the agonies and ecstasies of the publishing industry, and you need people who GET what you’re going through. Plus, their good news is just as exciting to me as my good news, so really it’s like you multiply the amount of good news you get, and that’s badass.

When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

I was in New Orleans, eating bbq while a construction crew jackhammered the sidewalk next to us. When I saw the email from my future agent wanting to schedule a call, I froze. I wasn’t sure if I couldn’t think because of the freaking jackhammer, or maybe because my entire life had changed.

Describe the querying process in 3 gifs.

 

WRiter headdesk

 

Writer sobbing under desk

 

Seinfeld happy dance

Tell us a little about your upcoming book/what’s next for you.

Right now, my agent is shopping around a NA rocker romance series, I’ve just written a Thing that no one can pin a genre on that shows an interracial couple’s journey through trauma and love mirrored in the city of New Orleans. And I’m about to start a romantic suspense series about female Spec Ops soldiers. Can’t wait for that one!

 

About Michelle

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Michelle Hazen is a nomad with a writing problem.

Years ago, she and her husband ducked out of the 9 to 5 world and moved into their truck. She found her voice with the support of the online fanfiction community, and once she started typing, she never looked back. She wrote most of her books in odd places, including a bus in Thailand, an off-the-grid cabin in the Sawtooth Mountains, a golf cart in a sandstorm, a rental car during a heat wave in the Mohave Desert and a beach in Honduras. Even when she’s climbing rocks, riding horses, or getting lost someplace wild and beautiful, there are stories spooling out inside her head, until she finally heeds their call and returns to her laptop and solar panels.

Michelle was awarded first place in the 2015 NTRWA Great Expectations Contest, New Adult genre. Her work is represented by Naomi Davis of Inklings Literary. Michelle is the Amazon bestselling author of Kindle Worlds titles: the Desperate Love Trilogy, the In Time We Trust Trilogy, Happily Ever After: Salvatore Style, and Sanguine Veritas. Find her on Facebook or Goodreads as Michelle Hazen, or follow her on Twitter @michellehazen.

Official site: http://michellehazenbooks.com/

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

#DVpit SPOTLIGHT SERIES #3: April 6, 2016

The Daily Dahlia

Welcome to day 3 of Meet the Agents of #DVpit! 

Jenny

Jenny Bent is the founder of the Bent Agency. She primarily reps adult and YA fiction.

“While I am open to any genre of adult or YA fiction, I would especially love to see a wonderful thriller or suspense novel with diverse characters or anything with a touch of the supernatural that takes me into a world I haven’t seen before.”

@jennybent
thebentagency.com

Linda

Linda Camacho joined Prospect Agency in 2015 after a decade in publishing, having done stints at Writers House, Penguin, and Random House before making the move. She received her MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Follow her on Twitter: @LindaRandom

“I’m seeking stories where marginalized characters aren’t just the sidekicks, but the stars. I’m open to all types, particularly along the lines of race, sexuality, or disability. My focus is on MG, YA, and adult…

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Posted in AmQuerying Series, Publishing, query, querying

#AMQUERYING: With Michael Mammay

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Hello RadDom readers! Today I have my second guest of the #Amquerying series, Pitch Wars 2015 mentee Michael Mammay! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. You can follow Michael on Twitter here and read below to find out how he got his agent, his advice for writers and more!


 

How did you prepare for querying?

I am a total data nerd, so I had a process. I got a list of all of the agents who represent adult SF from querytracker, then I put them in a spreadsheet, then I looked each agent up in Publisher’s Marketplace to see what books they’d sold, especially SF books that they sold, and to what publishers. From there I ranked them into three groups – top, second-round, and for consideration. I also ranked agents inside the same agency in order, so I could query the best fit first. After that I looked at things like MSWL, and adjusted my list based off of agents who appeared to want what I wrote (for example, my book is military sci-fi, so any agent specifically looking for that moved up on my list.)

Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

No, it was my second. My first book is a fantasy that you will never see. In fact, I’m not 100% sure it even exists. Scholars have long wondered, but there is no evidence to prove it.

What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? Can you share the timeline?

My process wasn’t too typical. My book got into Pitchwars, where Dan Koboldt was my mentor (He wrote THE ROGUE RETRIEVAL ) But I didn’t get my agent via the contest, so I queried immediately after that.

Stats:
I queried 32 agents.
I got 5 requests
4 of those requests got upgraded to fulls
I got 2 offers.

I started querying on the 5th of November and signed with my agent on the 2nd of March. So right about 4 months. In the end I got offers from two agents who were in my initial top 5 – so quality, not quantity for me. I signed with Lisa Rodgers of JABberwocky Literary, and I couldn’t be happier.

How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?

Definitely something other than cool. It kind of varied from day to day, where some days I was anxious about it, some days I was a little better. So what I tried to do was on the days where I felt good, send a bunch of queries. That way they were out there, and I could just wait. And then high and low. I got a lot of rejections early, and started to wonder if maybe this wasn’t the one. My requests came mostly later in the process, and as they came I started to have a bit more hope.

How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?

I wrote. And I did a lot of critiques for other people. Those are the two things that I think make you a better writer – writing and reading what others write. And I was starting to move on to the next thing, in case this one hadn’t worked out, so I just wanted to get better. Plus those are just two things I love to do.

Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?

How fast it went at the end. I went more than 3 months where things were very slow. Then all hell broke loose. The first agent to offer requested a partial, then requested a full the same day, then emailed to set up a call like 2 days later. So I went from pretty much nothing to GAAAAHHH in about 72 hours. I then set a deadline for other agents to respond, and the second agent asked for a full and got back to me the next day to set up a call. It was a crazy week.

If you could give querying authors one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have two. Can I do two? I’m doing two.

  1. Take your time. I’ve known literally hundreds of authors who have queried. Many, many of them will tell you ‘I queried too early’ (including me with my first book.) I’ve never once heard anyone say ‘I queried too late.’ You want to query agents with the best possible book you can write. Get critiques, then revise, then get more critiques. Find critique partners who hurt your feelings. Too many people, when they send stuff for critique, want someone to tell them how good it is. NO! You want someone to tell you what’s wrong, so you can make it better. You get one chance with an agent…make it the best chance. (For more on critiques, read this awesome post from MK England )
  2. Find your people. All that stuff up above about CPs and Beta Readers? You can’t just do that overnight. You have to get out there and meet people, swap chapters, figure out who you work well with. Not every reader is going to work out for you, so you’ve got to keep at it. And when you find good ones, do everything in the world to keep them. It takes time, but eventually you’ll have folks. When I re-wrote my first chapter after I got into Pitchwars, I contacted four people and was like…hey…can you read this for me…and oh, by the way…I kind of need it today. They all did it. Of course they did. They’re my people.

Did other writers come into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?

Oh, hell yes. So many. First off, my brother Steve reads everything I write before anyone else gets to see it. He’s not a writer, but I know he’ll tell me the truth if it sucks. This isn’t a critique – it’s just a little mental thing for me – and he always has one or two great ideas that I incorporate. After that I had about 8 or 9 readers on this project in three or four different rounds. I have three CPs who I’ve been with since I started getting serious about writing: Red Levine, Becka Enzor, and Colleen Halverson (Her book is awesome ). And along with them I had other great readers like David Kristoph, Jess Bloczynski, and Tahani Nelson, and of course Dan Koboldt made more notes during Pitchwars. Overall I did 4 revisions, plus a 5th revision on the third act. And then while I was querying I had the group with all the Pitchwars mentees, which has been invaluable for support. Probably the coolest thing about my query experience was that Becka and I got offers at the same time, so I got to share the entire offer/call thing with a long time CP who was going through it at exactly the same time.

When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?

Lisa emailed me to set up the call, which I set for after work. She discussed the revisions she saw for my book, which were so good that I kept interrupting her because I was excited about incorporating them. And she told me about the agency and all the awesome things about it (seriously…go look at the client list…it’s incredible.) What most impressed me is how much of a team they seem to be. Other agents read my book as well as Lisa, and one offered additional brilliant notes, one of which solved a problem I’d been trying to fix since my rough draft. It just felt like they were all on board and behind my project, and I knew that’s where I needed to be.

Describe the querying process in 3 GIFS.

Sending my first queries

Sending queries

Waiting

waiting.gif

Getting the email

Minions


 

 

Authors, want to be featured in the #Amquerying series?

Email me at Claribelortegaauthor@gmail.com!

Posted in Authors, Uncategorized

Stop Sucking on Twitter

dogslap

Hey, nerds. Today I’m gonna teach you how to stop ruining everything on Twitter. So listen the fuck up, while  I drop some gems.

Stop telling everyone about your rejections

Do you make a profile on Match.com and talk all about the times you got dumped by that loser Jared? NO. Why? Because all the other dudes or lady-dudes on the site are gonna be like “Ew. Why is she talking about Jared?” instead of focusing on your beautiful picture/personality/butt. Think of Twitter that way. If you’re querying, there’s zero reason to make your rejections public. Zero. None. No reason. ONLY BAD REASONS. It’s a bad decision, like Jared was. Do you want to go back to that cheating sack of shit? No, didn’t think so. Let agents assume you have a million fulls out, let them believe everyone loves your book. Don’t give them pause or reason to doubt how sick it is. It’s okay to not Tweet some things. Some things are for Twitter/your blog and some things are for Gchat. Rejections are for Gchat.

 

Stop telling everyone about your fulls, partials

THIS IS JUST AS BAD. You are being a humble brag, or an actual brag, and nobody thinks it’s cute. Also? This industry requires discretion sometimes, and if you can’t keep your mouth shut on Twitter during querying, agents will question if you can keep your mouth shut during submissions. And everyone will hate you.

Stop telling me how to publish

I don’t think I have ever gone to an indie author’s page and said HAHA GET AN AGENT. So why is it that self-published authors so often like to point out how happy they are they don’t have to deal with queries/people telling them what to do on one of me or my friends feeds? If you want to self-publish that’s awesome, high five friend, but don’t come over here and laugh at my pain while I’m querying or tell me to “go indie” or whatever because I will set my face on fire next time. I have a lighter.

Don’t auto DM me

DM of loser I just followed: “Hi, there! I can’t wait to connect with you on Twitter!”

Me: Unplugs computer, throws it in dumpster. Lights face on fire (I WARNED YOU!)

Auto DM’s don’t work. Sorry. They don’t. I don’t care what that marketing person at that one shitty company told you. They lied. It’s probably Jared. The only way to connect with people on social media is by doing just that. Connecting with them. Talk to them. Care about them and their stuff and be a nice real human! Not a spamming spam bot who has no friends.

Don’t follow to unfollow

So help me. The only reason to follow someone is because you want to read their Tweets and interact with them. Das it. Not to increase your numbers, not because you “should,” because you want to and they interest you. We’ve all seen the authors who follow 89K and have 89K followers. I usually won’t follow you back if you have these kinds of #’s because chances are you’re just Tweeting links to your book all day and NO THANKS. If you follow me to get a follow back, you’re shit out of luck. And if you follow me and I think, “hey this person is nice,” and follow you back, and three seconds later you unfollow me…don’t. Don’t be a bag of dicks, okay? Don’t do this. I’ve also seen people complain about authors not following them back lately (or agents, pfft) but here’s the thing. I’m under no obligation to follow you just because we both write. You know how many writers there are on Twitter? No, me either and probably because we both can’t count that high, (math, amirite?) Follow me if you like what I tweet. But if you’re boring, or Tweeting links to your book all day, or I don’t like your face, I’m not gonna follow you. Get over it.

Don’t ruin it for the rest of us

Can’t count the number of times I’ve seen authors pitch on the #MSWL tag (don’t) try and pitch an agent on Twitter out of the blue (STAHP) or be a jerk on the feed during one of the pitch contests. It’s easy to learn the rules for these contest if you just take a minute of your precious time to read. If  you DON’T like a contest or agents, or writers on Twitter the solution is simple: get the fuck out of our hashtags. You can be happy on your own #bagofdicks or #IloveJared tags, okay? We don’t come bother you on there. If you think we’re “pathetic” (saw someone say this just last week) for being in contests cool, but just you know, fuck right off.

A final note: Think of Twitter as a dinner party, where you’re allowed to be a little silly, and you could meet some important people, but also Obama is coming so don’t take your pants off. Twitter is a great place to meet writers, see what agents are looking for, interact with the publishing world and build your platform. It can be an awesome resource when people don’t have their heads up their butts. I love you guys, but stop being so annoying.

Posted in Books, Uncategorized

Help Me End the Book Embargo Against Cuba

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It always amazes me when I read headlines about kids not reading any more. As someone who travels to library and international book fairs for a living,  I’ve seen teens line up for hours to meet their favorite authors, or run through a convention center trying to nab an ARC or poster from a series they love. I’ve seen kids look at a brand new book with tears in their eyes, and tell me about how much they adore reading and in some cases, would love to write a book themselves one day. My trip to Cuba was no exception. If anything, it only intensified my belief that reading among kids is not only not dead, it’s thriving.

As I set up our display, made up of books from 40 US publishers (a first in Cuba), I was asked, begged, even bribed for some of these books. They were only for display, but trust me, it was hard not to give them all away (I might’ve given away a few I’m not a monster.)

“We don’t get those books here,” one of the girls told me.

“I would love to be able to read this. I wouldn’t find this book anywhere here,” said one teen with his eye on a book about the NY Yankees.

I met an author who asked me what I write about. I told her, “Witches in the 1980s.” And she replied, “I write about werewolves in the 1990s!” We both squealed a lot after that.

 

 

kids

             A gif of the line to the Mexican Pavilion. The video goes on for a few minutes!

Next door, the Mexican Pavilion had a line that went to the other side of the square and around the corner. And that line didn’t go away for the three days we visited the Havana Book Fair. I suspect it was there for the whole ten days of the event. And guess what? It was mostly kids. They were excited to get new books, like One Direction fandom on Tumblr excited, okay? It was intense, and awesome. I wished we could share our books with them. That they could read the thousands of amazing books by authors in the States, and that in that exchange we could maybe learn a little more about one another.

I’m not the kind of person to get political online (because I’m not the kind of person who likes strangers yelling at her online) but surely, we can get together to make sure these kids, and their parents, get access to the books they pored over at our stand. I’m proud to be among the first to sign the petition to allow US books into Cuba, and I hope you’ll help out with this cause and add your name to the list. Also I am pretty sure I’ve never asked you guys for anything before so, you owe me.

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More About the US Mission to Cuba

In February 2016, a delegation of approximately 40 American publishing industry representatives met with their publishing counterparts in Havana, Cuba. The two days of meetings, held with the support of the Cuban government, represented an historic milestone. Its purpose was to build bridges of understanding and explore opportunities for greater cultural and economic collaboration.

The American delegates included authors, publishers, distributors, literary agents, service providers, consultants, and independent booksellers. Cuba was represented by officials from the Cuban Book Institute, the Ministry of Culture and the Cuban Writers Association, as well as Cuban authors, publishers, academics, and students.

We know President Obama wants the economic embargo lifted, yet Congress isn’t yet on board.  We also know, as documented at https://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/foreign-policy/cuba the President has already exercised his executive powers to make special accommodations and exceptions to the trade embargo.   We know the American people are on board.  According to a Pew study last year (http://www.people-press.org/2015/07/21/growing-public-support-for-u-s-ties-with-cuba-and-an-end-to-the-trade-embargo/), 72% of Americans are in favor of lifting the economic embargo against Cuba, and fully 59% of Republicans are in favor.

With recent actions taken by the President to reestablish political relations and lift travel restrictions, with the American overwhelmingly supportive, and especially with President Obama’s historic state visit to Cuba this coming March 21-22, we believe the time is right to call for special accommodations for books considering the critical role books play in freedom of expression and economic development.